Thursday, September 23, 2010

Our Daily Bread Part 2

If you like the taste of onion seed bagels but want to avoid the wheat, calories and baking that a traditional bagel brings, try these fabulous onion flatbreads.

There are two recipes today that use sunflower seeds, so the first thing to do is get about 3 cups of sunflower seeds soaking. Some chefs only soak seeds for an hour or so, but I like to sprout the seeds, so they soak overnight, I rinse them and let them grow for a day, then make these breads. Don't forget to put flax seeds on to soak.

Have I introduced you to Golubka's blog yet? I found these delicious flatbreads here.

I make these breads in a high speed blender instead of a food processor. It really doesn't matter, except for how you process the flax seeds.
2 medium onions, cut into large pieces for the blender to handle.
1 cup of sprouted sunflower seeds (you will use more later on the top of the flatbreads)
4 tablespoons tamari or nama shoyu
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup flax seeds BUT if you are making them in a high speed blender and have soaked the flax seeds first, you will have what looks like a little flax cake. Once you have blended the other ingredients, cut the flax into strips that will drop through the feed hole in the top of your blender. With the blender on high speed, gradually feed in the strips until they are blended to the consistency you like (some like to have some whole flax seeds in the bread, some don't). If you don't have a high speed blender.....don't do this!!!! Your blender will choke and die quite quickly. If a Vitamix overheats, it simply stops until it cools down (or you put it in the freezer for awhile). If a regular blender becomes overburdened, the motor can quickly burn out.
If you are making these in a food processor, pre-grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or dedicated seed grinder and add them after you have processed the other ingredients. If you are using a regular blender, you have cut the onions smaller, for sure, and you can put the blended mixture into a bowl where you have already placed the flax seeds. Be ready to stir like crazy before it clumps.
(I know I said all this in part 1 but I don't want to feel responsible for your fried blender or sad, lumpy flatbread).

It's all good. This is not brain surgery or rocket science.

Place teflex sheets on your drier shelves and spread the mixture out. Now for the fun part....find every delicious kind of seed you have in your pantry or garden and you are ready to create the topping. I found fennel and parsley seeds in the garden and poppy, hemp, sesame in the pantry. I corse ground some coriander on top and sprinkled the rest, with lots of the sprouted sunflower seeds. Chop parsley leaves and sprinkle. Golubka has a wonderful tip for the next step. Wet your hands and press the seeds and leaves into the mixture. (I used to have problems with the seeds falling off in the dehydrator or when cutting, but no more. Wet hand patting really embeds the seeds into the mixture.)
That's it!

Dehydrate at 105 degrees until they are ready to come off the teflex sheets. Turn them over, remove the sheets, dehydrate some more until they can be cut with a knife, scissors or a pizza wheel. Dehydrate a little more to dry the edges. If you want them really crispy, dehydrate longer. For a bread, leave the pieces bigger. Great for bruschettas. Crispy, they are fabulous with new cashew cheese.

I said there would be another recipe today but I'm out of time. Put those extra soaked seeds in the refrigerator until tomorrow. They will be fine.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Our Daily Bread, Part 1

Often when I tell someone I'm eating a mostly raw diet I can tell they are imagining nothing but an endless parade of salads, and it seems bleak. Nothing could be further from the truth. Raw food also includes a variety of flat breads, crackers and wraps, all dehydrated at 105 degrees, all gluten free and delicious.

Wraps are flexible squares that can be made into many different dishes. They can be made from a variety of vegetables, with the addition of flax or chia seeds for flexibility and nutrition. The green wraps at the top of the photo are adapted from a recipe by Russell James in his E-book Thai Recipes. These green wraps are based on a Russell James recipe from his E-book Thai Raw Recipes.

The wraps on the lower left, covered with hemp seeds, were made with zucchini, tomato and tomatillo.
Green Wraps:

Shred zucchini in a food processor, enough to make about 5 and a half cups.
Put into high speed blender with:
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
a pinch of salt
Now to add some flax seed. You need about a quarter can be more if you like. My favorite way to use flax seed is to soak it, so that it wakes up its potential and almost begins to sprout. When it does this it looks almost like a cake. I cut it into strips and feed it, a little at a time into the blender. (Too much at once will cause it to overwork and shut off). Some people just grind flax sees, put them in a bowl and add the other blended ingredients to it, stirring furiously so it doesn't clump. The least nutritious option is to buy already ground flax seeds, but they tend to be so delicate once ground that it is easy for them to become rancid, so this is never an option I choose.
Pour onto teflex sheets which sit on dehydrator shelves, spread out into large squares covering the sheets. These will later be cut into 4. Dehydrate at 105 degrees for as many hours as necessary, so that they are dry but still flexible.

They can be rolled, as in the raw cannelloni above which has a pesto cashew cheese inside and a raw marinara sauce on top. Cucumbers, salad vegetables, raw hummus and raw baba ghanouj are all delicious and quick meals rolled into one of these wraps.


One can also make envelopes by putting a filling in the center, wetting the edges and folding them toward the center, overlapping a little, then turning them over so that the folded corners are on the bottom. This particular mixture is made with home sprouted mung beans, shitake mushrooms, shallots, red pepper, Thai pepper, cilantro, lime juice, tamari, corriander seed, cumin, sesame oil, sesame seeds, tamarind, and some Indonesian comet tail pepper.

Place in the dehydrator until the envelope becomes somewhat crisp and the filling is warm.

Dipping Sauce:

Dipping sauces can be made from blending fruits in season, like peaches or mango, with cucumber, lime, Thai pepper, cilantro, green onion to garnish. They can also be more like a salsa or a marinera sauce, depending upon the filling you have inside the envelope. Savory or sweet, spicy or mild.

In the next post, hearty walnut cumin flat bread and chewy onion mulit-seed flatbread.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Raw Baba Ghanouj: Fast, Easy and Delicious!

It was time to harvest some eggplant.
I don't know why I forgot to photograph the nice plump vegetables.

Here is the eggplant when it was still a flower.

I had found a recipe that talked about freezing then thawing the eggplant to soften the texture and the taste of the raw eggplant. I chopped up a few of the long thin Japanese eggplants from the garden, put them in the freezer, put some cashews on to soak and went on with my day.

Here is the recipe I found which uses a food processor to make the baba ghanoush. (We spell it's the same thing).
I used a Vitamix blender.
Throw everything in together:
2-3 cloves of garlic
a half cup of previously soaked cashews
a double handful of diced, frozen and thawed eggplant
juice from half a lemon (I actually peeled it, took out the seeds and put half of the lemon in the vitamix)
2T olive oil
a couple grinds of salt
Moroccan spice blend (add whatever Mediterranean spices you like or leave it plain).
Blend until its silky fine.
Make a well in the middle to put some fine olive oil in. Add sprigs of parsley and kalamata olives around the outside add a grind of good black pepper.
Really, this is the only thing I've made this year that I haven't photographed the first time I made it, but I was too busy eating it with a variety of flatbreads that I've made to even think of photographing. Maybe next time. I love baba ghanouj and I'm excited to find that I can make it easy and raw and delicious.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Researching Cactus: Nopales drinks, salsa and jerky

Cactus, Super Food of the South

It has taken me several years of living here in California, at the same latitude as Morocco, to begin to make friends with Native plants. Its not that I never saw a cactus in Canada...they do grow....but they are stubby little things, often bent over, low growing and tiny enough to make one wish they had never worn sandals on a hike. I saw cacti every winter when I visited my parents on their winter sojourn to California, and also when I lived in Mexico for a year but somehow they had always been a part of the exotic foliage. Beautiful strangers, not friends.

Last year, when I was still making fermented drinks like kombucha and water kefir, I had read that that some people thought that some of the first "grains" for making water kefir had come from the cactus, found as little crystal like deposits on the cactus. I thought this was interesting, but couldn't find any more information about it. I asked as many Mexican Americans as I could and none had heard of his. Then I found this web page: "World's Best Water Purifier May Be The Cactus"

This is what scientists have discovered that the Mexican Natives probably knew for centuries:

"Scientists from the University of South Florida have discovered the water purifying power of the prickly pear cactus. An extract from the desert-dweller is very effective at removing sediment and bacteria from dirty H2O and, even better, it grows all around the world.

The scientists aren't the first to realize this plant's ability. Nineteenth-century Mexican communities used the cactus as a water purifier. The thick gum in the cactus that stores water is responsible for the purification. The scientists extracted the gum and then added it to water that had been dirtied up with sediment and bacteria.

The gum caused the sediment and bacteria to combine and settle to the bottom, filtering 98 percent of the bacteria from the water. The next phase is to test it on natural water.

The scientists see communities in developing countries using the cactus on daily basis. They could boil a slice of it to release the gum and then add it to water just like the scientists did. But there are hurdles to overcome. What resources would be necessary for widespread growth of the cactus for this purpose and how can people ensure the "treated" water is truly bacteria free? If these problems can be solved, cheap, clean water could be accessible for millions who are currently without. "

I was still excitedly thinking about this when I saw nopales in the supermarket, both the whole paddle and a bag of cut up pieces.

The nopales paddles have single thorns sticking out of raised parts in the paddle.

The best tools I found to remove the thorns were a strawberry huller and a small cheese knife. I'm sure there must be a dedicated tool for this somewhere, but the little strawberry nipper worked well.

The idea that nopales could be used as a water purifier intrigued me so the first thing I wanted to make was a drink. In a high speed blender I combined nopales pieces, ripe mango, fresh young coconut water, coconut kefir, lime juice and ice cubes. was Heaven! Refreshing, delicious and thirst quenching.

The next experiment was a salsa with tomatillos from the garden, heritage tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, slivers of red onion, lime juice, cumin, cayenne, corriander.......all the usual salsa ingredients with this one added surprise. When I eat nopales I feel the hydrating effect throughout my body. The salsa was delicious and it was also a hydrating medicine.

Dehydrating into a cactus jerky came to mind. I sliced the cleaned nopales paddles and massaged an Asian inspired sauce onto the strips. As I was doing this I was thinking of all of the different kinds of sauces I could marinate these strips in. I mean, how many kinds of beef jerky are out there? ( I don't actually know, having never looked at the stuff, but there must be different kinds). Once the strips were marinated, I sprinkled hemp seeds on them, thinking that I could also use sesame seeds. The strips were lined up on teflex sheets on dehydrator trays and dehydrated for hours at 105. Once dried, they must be stored in lock-tight glass containers with a desccicant inside because the whole nature of the cactus is to capture and hold water. I love these chewy morsels.

So now I feel like I know this cactus a little better. She is becoming my friend. I have planted some on the South side of the garden. The next time I go to the desert, I will go to meet friends.

Vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3 and C
Fibers: lignen, cellulose, hemicelluloses, mucilages, pectins, gum
Minerals: calcium, magnesium, iron, sodium, potasium
Amino acids:
17 amino acids (including 8 of the essential which must be ingested as food), in the form of easily digestible protein

*Helps balance blood sugar.
*Known to reduce cholesterol.
*Provides nutrients to pancreas and liver, which support digestion and maintain blood sugar balance.
*detoxifies and aids in prevention of various illnesses.
*Gentle alternative to psyllium.

Wouldn't it be great to re-introduce this wonderful plant to the Native populations and to make it available to everyone? It grows easily on land where nothing else will grow. I'm so excited about this plant.

I found a website that makes an extract of nopales.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thick Rich Raw Sauces

When I first began to make raw food I couldn't imagine how to create that slow simmered thick goodness that one gets with cooked sauces like marinara sauce or with dips, like hummus. Even the recipe books, in the case of raw zucchini hummus, will say that it's not as thick as hummus made with cooked garbanzo beans. I thought of that cooked down juicy goodness in apple pie...surely that must be impossible with raw food. Nope, it's not. Rich goodness begins by adding dehydrated tomatoes to a marinara sauce, dehydrated zucchini chips and extra sesame seeds to hummus, dried apple chips to the sauce for apple pie and......I haven't gotten around to making a mushroom gravy, but I will.

I hadn't imagined the bonus of zucchini chips tasting sweet and delicious, or my own "sun dried" (in the dehydrator) tomatoes added to so many dishes. I'd eaten apple chips before, but when marinated in lemon juice and cinnamon then dehydrated at 105 degrees, they achieve a whole new level of flavour.

The sauce for this raw apple pie was made with apple chips, dates, goji berries (for the warm delicious colour as well as the nutrients) and some water, whipped to silky smoothness in a high speed blender. The crusts had been made before hand and refrigerated. The ingredients are simple: walnuts, dates, goji berries, a few raisins, and vanilla pulsed in a food processor. Press into a form with a removable bottom and freeze or refrigerate. The apples are quickly sliced in the food processor, so the pie goes together, with layers of sauce and layers of apples, making a delicious apple pie dessert.

Here, laying out apple slices to go into the dehydrator.

The last two blog entries cover zucchini hummus and marinara sauce.

The latest, warm from the dehydrator, item in the "dried and ready to eat or make a sauce with" are spicy crooked neck squashes which are plentiful in the garden right now. These chips are delicious! Here, laying out the slices, marinated in sauce, in the outdoor kitchen.

Marinated crook neck squash, ready to dehydrate.

In this batch, there won't be enough left to make a sauce with. These are the best chips I've ever tasted! The marinade was made with a little tamari, olive oil, garlic, some red pepper, a seeded heritage tomato, some onion, lemon, a touch of avocado honey, turmeric, cayenne, oregano....all whirled in the blender and taste as you go to balance. Hemp seeds were sprinkled on top, but they didn't stick very well.

It's exciting to be keeping up with the pounds and pounds of produce from the garden this year, making things I hadn't even tasted this time last year.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Raw Zucchini Hummus

A brief foraging trip to the garden this morning brought me an armload of zucchini and two kinds of cucumber. I wanted to use both vegetables for lunch. Zucchini hummus with cucumber sticks came to mind. Back to the garden I went for some garlic, chives and coriander seed.
I hadn't made zucchini hummus for awhile so wanted to look at a recipe. I do have a couple of cookbooks, but for a quick meal like this it's faster to google the name of the dish, scan 3 recipes and either go with the most interesting or improvise from what I've read.
This was the most interesting of the three, and I improvised from this recipe.
raw zucchini hummus (adding garlic to the recipe, of course).
The first time I made this raw zucchini hummus, I looked in Raw Food Made Easy I'm giving you the Amazon link here for a reason. If you go to the Amazon page, you will see that there is a "click to look inside" button. If you click on that, you will find a "search inside this book" dialogue box. If you type in zucchini hummus you will find all references to those words, including the recipe (page 73..yield 1Cup is an indication that that this one is the recipe and the others use the recipe to make other dishes).
I have her book, but I always know where the recipe is when I look for it on my computer.
Most zucchini Hummus recipes are much thinner than regular hummus. What I learned from the recipe in the first link was to add sesame SEEDS as well as tahini to make the mixture thicker. When I thought about it later, I realized that maybe I could make the hummus without buying expensive tahini! I could make the whole thing in my high speed blender with raw sesame seeds, from scratch, and get exactly the texture I wanted! (It works!)

I served the hummus with cucumber sticks, tomatoes, olive tapenade and crackers . The dappled light is caused by the grape arbor above us.

Review: So, while this is about zucchini hummus, the subtext of this post is that there is so much information to be found on the internet, so many recipes, so many ways of doing things...remember to give yourself choice. There was a time when the way to get information was through teachers. Now, one can more easily teach oneself. Please consider this option when you are beginning. Consider spending your money on the equipment you need to more easily make raw food rather than building up a cook book supply or taking lessons. Once you find yourself referring back to a particular chef again and again.....that's the time to invest in their books or lessons. Most chefs have news letters or blogs as well that are a wonderful source of information.
Happy Days with raw food! I just put on some jeans I was wearing 17 years ago when I met James. They fit!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Raw Pasta with Marinara Sauce

Once I began this raw food adventure, I thought I had said Goodbye to glorious pastas and sauces. Luckily, I was wrong.

Raw Pasta
I use this Vietnamese tool to make the "pasta" from zucchini. I bought it from Ronnie and Minh. If you think you'd like to go all out and get the Veggie Spiral Slicer instead of this little tool, you can get it much cheaper at Amazon than on this site. You can also make pasta from zucchinis by cutting lines down the length of the zucchini, then cutting down the length across these cuts to create long thin noodles. Practice your knife skills by making noodles.

I couldn't imagine how a raw marinera sauce could have the rich flavour of slow simmered tomatoes, but there is a secret that makes this sauce thick and rich.
It's the sun dried tomatoes.
Raw Marinera Sauce
Here's a basic recipe. Once you make it you can adjust the sweetness and the seasonings.
*First, soak 10 to 15 sun dried tomato halves.
*2-3 Cups of tomatoes (I love Heritage tomatoes for this, but Romas are fine too) If there are a lot of seeds I take some out.
*1-2 dates. If they are not fresh, soak them. (Start with adding one date. That might be enough for your tastes. It is for ours. Add a second or a third if the dates are small or if your sauce needs it.)
*garlic to your tastes. We add 3 cloves, but we love garlic. Remember, Raw is stronger in flavour than cooked.
*1/4 cup of good olive oil
*seasonings: Celtic sea salt, oregano, Italian parsley, cayenne (I put in a whole cayenne pepper, seeds removed, but one could start with a pinch of powdered cayenne and taste.

Blend this up in a high speed blender until it has a wonderfully smooth texture and taste. You might want to add a little fresh lemon juice if it needs it, or some water if the tomatoes weren't really juicy. Enjoy the tasting part and make the sauce perfect for your taste buds.

Cultured Nut Cheeze
I don't even miss Parmesan cheese when I add some pistachios (or pine nuts) and this time I added a light and breezy cultured Brazil Nut cheeze. I use coconut kefir to culture my cheezes. It was a perfect compliment to the sauce.

Marinated Shitake Mushrooms
These aren't essential, but give an added flavour. Wipe the mushrooms with a cloth, remove woody stems and slice. Add some wheat free Tamari (this isn't raw, omit if you are 100% raw) and lemon juice to marinate.

That's it! A perfect summer lunch. For a larger meal, add a salad and flax crackers or flatbread. I'll post a raw flat bread recipe soon.

Mango Coconut Happy drink

We've been inventing a lot of delicious drinks lately..still drinking green smoothies a lot, but also becoming more adventurous and at home with pairing ingredients we might not have before.

This one was a great finish to a wonderful day in the garden:

Half of the meat and juice of a young coconut
1 Mexican or Phillipino mango (the small yellow ones with the interesting magatama shape)
a tablespoon or two of coconut milk (or about a third of a can if you like creamy drinks or don't have fresh coconut)
tray of ice
cup of water (or coconut kefir)
a couple of spoons of coconut sugar (to taste). This can be sprinkled on top of the drink for texture and interest.

Whizz up in the Vitamix until silky, pour into glasses, top with grated nutmeg, cinnamon and a little coconut sugar.

Refreshing and delicious drink for two. Serve with spoons because it's thick.

I'm not sure why the texture is so much more velvety when using this kind of mango.

James applies the nutmeg to the drinks.

Also delicious with the coconut milk and ice is fresh pineapple (raw pina colada) and combining mango with pineapple. The combination of papaya and pineapple is also good but in a more quiet, subtle way.

Happy Summer Celebration!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Raw learning: Owning rather than being owned by Raw Learning

I've been struggling.

Not with inventing new raw food delicacies. Not with loosing weight or feeling great with this new approach to food.

It's about noticing my approach to learning anything new.

I jump in head first, then find myself in a school or study program and I'm mad as hell because I wanted to discover all these things myself and now the thrill if discovery is replaced with a time bound curriculum. This time I imagined myself at a raw chef school. Training to work in restaurants. This would involve thousands of dollars. Months away and thousands of miles away from home....and I'm pretty sure that I don't ever want to work in a restaurant. Then there are the home study courses. A lot of them. I think I found the best one. But still.......even though I was conflicted, I was even dreaming about the things I would learn, the food I would make. I woke up thinking about the shelf I would make to house all of those DVDs from the home study course.

Whoa! That was when I began to wake up and come back to my purpose. Oh, there was one other thing. Looking at the student kit for the Raw Chef school, I noticed that the chef's coats looked great on the 20 something men, but the women looked uniformly frumpy in their chef coats. Still in the grip, being OWNED by the idea, I researched chef coats, found some made for women's bodies and looked at them all. When I noticed that I was designing my own...the exact chef coat I would like that was not for sale anywhere, I finally stopped and wondered how the hell I had taken myself out on this limb. I had allowed myself, in my eagerness to take ownership of raw food preparation, to be owned by the idea of learning about it.

I'm no stranger to learning, or even to writing courses for degree granting programs. I know how I like to learn through exploration yet and I had immediately hopped on the learning train and off of my path.

It wasn't only with the food and learning. I did exactly the same thing with the technology behind this blog. I had begun the blog so that when I travelled, or even if I was in the kitchen, all of the recipes I had discovered and wanted to try again would be in one place. I hadn't really considered that others would read, and if they did, I was happy to share. Simple. So what did I do? Of course, I wanted to do the very best I could, so I enrolled in a course to learn about optimizing for Google, and so many other technical things I could do to optimize this blog it would take me eight hours a day for who knows how long to do everything I envisioned. it was a great course, but with so much of my creative mind going to learning a whole new way of relating to food, I just wasn't ready to take on the optimization of my blog.

That was the last time I wrote here. The day before I went on a learning binge and imagined myself into a completely different life with one part of my brain while another part firmly planted its feet and said fagetaboutit! I'm not going there.

So I've been stuck when it comes to using this little blog or writing anything at all. This didn't stop the discoveries in raw food. I think it may have intensified the walk along curiosity's path. At least I took photos. I have the evidence. I can re-imagine the dishes and write them down. I own them. As glorious as it is, this raw food inquiry doesn't own me.

I'm back on the path, one step at a time.

If you would like to home study or go to a fabulous raw chef school, here are the best I've found.

Russell James has a home study course that looks awesome. His dishes are as beautiful as they are balanced and delicious.

105 Degrees Academy has a seriously wonderful chef training program.

Crooked Brook is the maker of "The World's Highest Quality Chef Jackets". If you want mother of pearl buttons, embroidered flowers on the cuffs, organic pima cotton, that's be extra. Great fun to look at.

Ryan Nagy for reasonably priced teleseminars on internet presence, with tons of extra information to use whenever one is ready for it. Absolutely the best in the field.

OK...Now I'm ready to write about my food. The blog is simple and clunky without an index. I know what I should do to make it easier to use and look more beautiful but the food, beautiful raw food, is calling.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ode To Tomatoes

And Also To Tomatillos:

This morning I found this beautiful gift in the garden, somehow left from last summer's harvest.

By the time you read this, it has been planted.

Ode To Tomatoes by Pablo Neruda

The street
filled with tomatoes,
light is
a tomato,
its juice
through the streets.
In December,
the tomato
the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
takes its ease
on countertops,
among glasses,
butter dishes,
blue salt cellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign magesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it:
the knife
into living flesh,
a cool
populates the salads
of Chile,
happily it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
its flag,
bubble vigorously,
the aroma
of the roast
at the door,
it's time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer, the tomato,
star of earth, recurrent
and fertile
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery colour
and cool completeness.

With such a mild winter, the tomatoes have continued to grow, slowly and quietly. Somehow they have found nourishment on their withered vines.....the ones I forgot to pull out last fall.....and now they offer their sweet, ripe goodness.

Today, in this house, and completely out of season in most places, we celebrate the rich goodness of the tomato
...and the promise of the tomatillo.

Salad for lunch!

Oda al Tomate, in Spanish, here

Thanks, Richard Banks, for posting this poem on Facebook in response to my tomato bruschetta photo. I might not have noticed the tomatillo in the garden, so well hidden but badly placed for growing, if I had not been thinking of the sweet sensuality of Neruda's words on all things tomato.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Learning and Inspiration

I am finding that as well as a learning curve in raw food preparation there are other, more profound, shifts.

My sense of time is altered, and it noticeably affects other parts of my life. Raw food preparation is different than the buy, prep, cook, eat, clean up time line for eating cooked food. With raw food, sometimes the preparation begins days ahead, with soaking and sprouting. Dehydrating can take a couple of days if one wants to keep the enzymes intact. When a lunch or dinner item calls for some aspects to be pre-made, one must have thought that out previously. One slips more into The Long Now way of thinking about time. The granola I make takes me about a week of soaking sprouting and dehydrating many separate items before it is complete. Not a lot of time every day, but the process does sit on the dash board of consciousness with a check list of items to be added. This calls for a broader view, like a slower heart beat, to the day and to the week, and to the season.

With cooked food the question is always what is the best way to cook this? what temperature? what else needs to be cooked with it?
With raw food, the question is always How can I bring more LIFE to this food? Will soaking or sprouting or chopping bring out the life in it? Can I keep the dehydrating temperature low enough to ensure that its enzymes are still intact? Can I melt the cacao butter slowly enough so that the temperature is not raised too high? These are gentle questions. There is time and encouragement to breathe, and to think, while preparing raw food.

I'm thinking about learning and inspiration. A great example has just shown itself. I began to make a bruschetta from a recipe, and somehow, between the trip to the panty and answering the phone, I find myself making the mixture not from the recipe, but from the list of ingredients that appears on the bottle of organic bruchetta we bought at the farmer's market.
I think of the people at the Mt. Olive stand at the farmer's market in Ojai. Their farm is in Paso Robles.

I am inspired by what they are doing and by how they are combining their families (three families), their passion, their faith and their hard work to make the land into an abundant paradise. Everything is organic and everything at their stand is made in the farm kitchen from their organic produce.

If you stop by the stand, you are invited to taste everything from little wooden sticks that they dip into their sample jars then hand to you. How to choose? Everything is fresh, organic, raw and delicious.
They tell us about their farm and answer questions about their worm beds which is how they create great soil for their plants and trees.
The first treats we bought were dehydrated persimmon slices, persimmon leather and persimmon/walnut bars.
Theses were delicious. We had never tasted fuyu persimmon before. The next week we caught the end of the persimmon season and bought a basket full of persimmons. We were Inspired.

I lined the persimmons up near the window sill, more to look at them than anything.

Then I made our own leather, dried slices and a walnut persimmon bar that we liked better than the Mt. Olive Farm bar...without sugar the bar was sweet enough for us! The next week there were no more persimmons at the market.

For some reason, the only photo I took of the walnut bar was as it was going in to the dehydrator, ( I doesn't look as good as it tasted at this point in its life). Laer it was cut it into bars. How exciting it is to discover a new fruit.

We planted a persimmon tree in the front yard. We learned that the best one would be a pollination constant, non astringent fuyu.

We tasted our first persimmon on a little sample stick on January 10 and by February 20th we were planting our own tree. We were inspired and we brought that inspiration into our lives. Learning happened.

A few years ago, my friend Yaanna told me about a book she was reading. She told me that when British soldiers were getting ricketsand scurvey at sea, Ligurian sailors were eating the food their wives had sent with them and the sailors were returning home healthy. Questions about food preservation in the days before refrigeration and canning burst into mind.

The British sailors just had limes from the tropics to keep them from scurvy and rickets. The Ligurians had a whole culture of good food. I spent two years getting up every day and wondering, in this season, what can I make that would last on a long journey? I imagined Liguria, the kitchens, their cookwear, the utensils.....I never read the book, but this inspiration, this wondering, led me into fermenting vegetables in all kinds of ways, making cheeses and non alcaholic fermented drinks, preserving food in oil, preserving by dehydrating, sauces in bottles (small necks topped with oil or wax, then corked).

I still haven't read the book. I don't even remember the name. The inspiration leading to all those imaginings created a learning environment that went far beyond where any recipe could take me. I had a whole Ligurian village in my head that I could stop in at any house to see what was cooking, to hear stories of the day and find out when the ships were coming home. This acted like a file folder for information I would glean in the rest of my day and store there. From this, food inventions would appear.

We are working our way through the Mt. Olive line and enjoying every treasured bottle we bring home.
Here is the bruschetta I've made from enjoying theirs. Before I was eating raw food, I thought of bruchettas as roughly chopped mix to put on bread. Now that we don't have bread to soak up the tomato juice, I'm happy to have this version, where I use half dehydrated tomatoes. Mine is made from colourful heritage tomatoes, four colours here, each with a different flavour. ( Organic Brandywine, Yellow pineapple, Green Zebra Heritage tomatoes and Organic Roma tomatoes ( to make the fourth colour). Mine is quite different, but the inspiration?

I'll take the inspiration given, (Thank You Mt. Olive friends), and I'll taste, imagine and learn.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Banana Ice Cream

Sooner or later that question simmers, behind it, a little nagging voice arises and it is saying louder and louder: I WANT ICE CREAM!
Have you ever looked at the list of ingredients in commercial ice cream? Frightening!

Better yet, have you ever heard of One Ingredient Ice Cream? 
That one delicious ingredient is Musa sapienta. It contains vitamin A, vitamin B6, Vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin G. It contains potassium, calcium, phosphorous and selenium. It reduces blood pressure. It has been used to treat cataracts, for stomach ulcers, and contains pectin which inhibits colon cancer.*
Where do you find Musa sapienta, especially if you don't speak Latin? (Bad joke, no one speaks Latin). It's common name is banana and it makes WONDERFUL ice cream. Cut bananas into chunks and freeze. Then they are ready to use either in smoothies, or alone as a base for ice cream. One can add half a vanilla pod or fruit or cacao powder. Chopped nuts, dates or raisins would be good. Chocolate sauce if feeling a little decadent or lime zest, chipoltle pepper (just a little), cinnamon, kiwi, star fruit......almost endless in possibilities with almost instant gratification, as long as you have those banana pieces frozen. When that voice begins to nag, take out some banana pieces, whirl in the vitamix and put in a bowl. Best if you assemble all add-ons first so it doesn't melt.
I freeze the pieces, not touching, on a teflex sheet sitting on a cookie tray that fits inside the freezer. I put a smaller teflex sheet or a paper towel on top, let the pieces freeze then transfer them to a sealed container which I keep in the freezer. (yes, I once froze a banana with its skin on and then felt really retarded when it proved difficult to remove the skin.) Mashing the banana and freezing it in ice cube trays also works. One never needs to throw out over-ripe bananas. Just freeze them at their finest moment and enjoy later.

*Information about the banana from Natural News .

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Birthday Cake

I made a birthday cake for my honey. It was OK, but not fabulous, so I'm not posting even a bit of a recipe. Following some of the recipes in RAW was probably the first time I've ever more or less followed a recipe. I usually get an idea, google for a recipe, look at four or five different ones then go create my own.

This time, I used a recipe from a cookbook that was created by someone I've looked up to for awhile. Now I see we obviously have different tastes, particularly when it comes to sugar. I made the bottom crust according to instructions, tasted it, then took only one quarter of the mixture and added a whole new batch of ground walnuts to it. It was still a little too sweet! Then a layer of strawberries....not much can go wrong there. The pink layer has raspberries and a little piece of beet to create more colour, and the top layer is chocolate. Both layers have cacao butter in them. Each layer called for half a cup of agave nectar but I put less than a quarter of a cup and still it was sweet. The chocolate sauce on top was just agave and cacao powder. That does not qualify as a sauce.

Sometimes we don't learn what we think we are going to learn, but still we learn big lessons.
I made the mistake of deciding to make this cake with a time pressure for a celebration so there was no chance to properly think it through and re-create the recipe in a way that would make sense to me. Nothing in the recipe said it was an ice cream cake, but there was nothing in the ingredients to make the cake set other than freezing it. It was supposed to be a mousse cake. Irish moss, a tiny bit of ground flax, agar agar.....any of these of these would have created some body in the mousse layers. Using this recipe as it is, without the freezer this would not have been a cake. It would have had no form at all and no separation of layers.

So, this post is not so much about cake, or eaven about food. It's about putting ones trust in oneself and not in other people, however much press or experience they've had. It's about understanding that their "product" might not be useful or helpful or even healthy for you. I was disappointed, then surprised and finally happy to find that I have my own strong aesthetic with raw food cooking. So I learned something good after all.
After a month and a half of drinking green smoothies and eating healthy food,  I felt heavy and unhappy after eating a slice of this. It was fairly delicious, but I'm interested in finding ways to create celebration dishes that both work as delicious food and don't add unnecessarily to the calorie load.
I'm going to be thinking about this and eventually I'll come up with a nice, raw, light raspberry/chocolate mousse.
This was just one step along the path, and it involved finding confidence in my own ability to create what I need.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

WuBe Bars raw banana energy bars

If I gave instructions that followed my path to making these bars it would begin: Plant several kinds of bananas. Nourish them.
When the bunch has matured, cut it down. While waiting for the bananas to ripen off the plant, one can make a salad or banana flower curry from the flower that hangs below the banana bunch. You can make a hair rinse, Bali style, from the rising sap of the fresh cut banana plant.
I know, I know, you just want a quick and delicious raw snack! Well, here it is, and it IS quick and delicious.
For those of you with banana plants, I've tried this with Brazilian bananas (light and strawberry tasting) as well as the regular Cavandish variety.
For this bar, the Cavandish is better. More meaty and chewy when dehydrated. Yes, the recipe begins with dehydrated bananas, so you can buy a package (Cavandish is the commercial variety you will find in stores) or dehydrate a few bananas at 105 degrees if you have a dehydrator.
This photo is of a bunch of the little thumb sized Brazilian bananas we harvested recently. Our plants are buffeted by the western winds from the Pacific and the Eastern wind from the desert so the skin looks quite scruffy but this does not affect the interior. Commercial bananas are bagged on the "tree" as they grow so they look cosmetically nicer. (It's not really a tree. The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant). They take time to ripen and do so in seemingly random patterns. The word banana comes from the Arabic banan which means "finger".
The bananas are peeled, cut and arranged on teflex sheets to go into the dehydrator.
I didn't dehydrate these as hard and chewy as I could have.
For these sorts of jobs I put on my favourite music or podcast or downloaded TV show. The fastest way I've found to make the pieces small is to snip them with scissors. (It's also an opportunity for a meditation in action).

Now! I should have given these ingredients at the beginning:
Goji berries, soaked, patted dry, and chopped
raw macadamia nuts
angel hair coconut (nice long, wide pieces give more texture)
hemp seeds
cacao butter (sometimes called white chocolate)
add some coconut butter too, if you like

Amounts? Think about creating a balance with the banana pieces. It's hard to go wrong. Add warm (not hot) water to the goji berries. While they are soaking chop the nuts and add them to the bananas. Add the coconut angel's hairs(can't you just see a coconut angel with long coconut strand hair?), hemp seeds and coconut butter if you are adding a little. (The reason for adding more cacao butter than coconut butter is that the cacao butter has a higher melting point and so will hold the mixture together better at room temperature). It also tastes delicious. By the time you've finished chopping and adding everything else except the cacao butter the goji berries will be ready. (You can also soak them for several hours). Pat the goji berries somewhat dry, chop and add them to the mix. Stir well. The goji berries will give the mix a golden glow. As I stir I wonder if they would make a good dye for thin silk. I am also reminded to plant some as the leaves of goji are good in green smoothies.

I'm curious to know your decisions about creating balance with these ingredients.

Looking at the size of your batch, choose a pot to gently melt the cacao butter which will also hold all of the ingredients as you stir the cacao butter into everything, coating each piece. The cacao butter will both flavour the mixture and hold it together. Also choose a container to put the mixture in. It should fit in a spot in your freezer or refrigerator. Spread a thin layer of coconut butter on the inside of the pan or glass container so it will be ready when you have stirred in the cacao butter.
GENTLY heat. This will go slowly but you don't want it so hot it sizzles your raw ingredients. Cutting the cacao butter into pieces before you melt it will make this part a little faster and easier.

Once the mixture has been completely coated in cacao butter, turn the mixture into the oiled container. Use a spice bottle as a tamper to compact everything into a block. When you have a well compacted, flat surfaced block, cover with a clean kitchen towel or a loose lid and put it in the freezer or refrigerator. When it has set a little (it doesn't need to be frozen hard) bring it back out and cut into squares or bar shapes.
Enjoy! Your bar will be better tasting and cheaper than the energy bars you buy. No cook, raw living food goodness.

When artist Alex Gorlizki saw a photo of these he said "I'm sure these are downloadable if I just press the right keys while licking the mouse.."

I hope you check out Alex's work while munching your WuBe bars.
Bananas contain considerable amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin C and potassium. This is why they are particularly good in energy bars. Replenish your electrolytes!